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Second appointment with the UCI XCO World Cup 2012, World Cup which makes a stop in the "Temple" of the Mountain Bike in Europe, the Belgian town of Houffalize.




We left about a month ago with Nino Schurter's victory in the opening stage of Pietermaritzburg, a victory that allowed the Swiss Biker to wear the cup leader jersey again at a distance of one year since the last time he has been able to boast of this honor. The differences with the opening round are significant, starting from the climate, while the riders had to do with summer temperatures in South Africa in Houffalize they are in front of 0.7 degrees Celsius, with also substantial differences in the type of path, that in Houffalize is a continuous up and down that in addition to disorient the rider does not allow to have a minimum recovery because of the steep and repeated ascents and short and fast descents.

The conditions to see a good battle are all here, so there is only to wait for the start of the race!

At the start is Manuel Fumic that begins the ostility with a forcing that allows him heading for much of the intro lap with all the other top riders chasing His wheels, while the group formed by Schurter, Kulhavy, Fumic, Absalon and Stander tries to go away the cyclists in the rear part of the group are literally stuck in traffic due to the structure of the narrow Belgian track, between bikers departed second level positions who seems to shine particularly is Florian Vogel, started significantly delayed due to technical problem in Pietermaritzburg that forced him to retire without obtaining any point.

The intro lap is closed by Schurter at 12': 07'' followed by Kulhavy, Fumic and Absalon at 5 seconds, at a short distance from Stander and Fontana.

At the first complete lap Schurter tries to set the pace with Kulhavy on the wheel who wants to revert the opaque South African round which saw him come in fifth position, a compact group start to lead the race including in addition to Schurter and Kulhavy also Fumic, Absalon, Stander and a brilliant Marco Aurelio Fontana; this group proceeds quite compact stretching on the final descent of the lap where Schurter gives driving lessons to all the other inventing lines between bends that are a feast for the eyes. It is at this time that the positions of the race starting to take shape: the couple formed by Absalon and Schurter pushed the pace, gaining a handful of seconds on Fontana who settles in third place, closely followed by another couple, formed by Stander and Fumic. Who start to lose the rhythm of the five best is Kulhavy, which is not able to make its own pace as shown in other world cup races in the 2011 season. At the end of lap also Vogel, the author of an extraordinary proof, finishes before the regnant World Champion with a gap of about 30 seconds from the preceding group consisting of Fumic and Stander.


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On the head of the race is a constant teasing between Absalon and Schurter, alternating the lead several times every lap showing both a great shape and the classic "Boost" over the rest of the platoon, the one that runs on the same times is Fontana that keeps the same delay of 20 seconds accumulated in the previous lap, turning even a second faster than the leading riders, what appears to be a disadvantage for Fontana, which is in no man's land between two pairs of Biker's rather shows the great shape of the Italian champion who thanks to his exceptional descent talents manages to hold off his pursuers and not give too much ground to the Swiss-French duo in the head.



The third lap ends with the photocopy of the previous lap positions with Kulhavy that seems to have stabilized its position in the group with Vogel and Tempier. Begins the  fourth and penultimate round and even during this one times are similar to earlier ones, with Fontana, who maintains a 20 second gap with the leading pair and 20 seconds to the pursuers, the victory thus remains to be decided at the last of the five laps , the turn in the race took place not long in coming, at the first steep climb Absalon goes full gas with a gesture of exceptional power, the response of Schurter has been immediate but since the first few meters it is clear that the French has understood that it has more and pushes Schurter to the limit, during the next first technical descent Nino recovered the bike by a fall almost certain sign of a freshness that is starting to fail, the ride of the Helvetic rider becomes less round while the French shows the class that distinguishes a Double Olympic Champion. Absalon slowly but surely increases the gap between the two and seems to be back in the shape we were used up to two seasons ago, with a perfect action secures a second after the other driving downhill with the classic clean and safe style that has always distinguished him, in the final descent decides not to take unnecessary risks by not using the "Nino Line" heading towards the finish line with the tranquility of who is widely used to handle the pressure of the first position. In the rear Stander breaks the delay and with a nice progression moved into fourth position passing Fumic, it is the South African bikers to give the ultimate thrill of the race with a fall in the last meters of the final descent which could cost him his place won by the work done on the last lap. The Top Ten sees a huge Absalon, followed at 38" by Schurter, third place for a great Marco Aurelio Fontana, who equaled his best result in the Cup closing at 1:04 from the first. In order come Stander, Fumic, Vogel, Tempier, Peraud, Hermida and closes the top 10 Giger, Jaroslav Kulhavy concluded his performance only in twelfth place, there are many possible speculations, but the fact is that His performance at the time do not equal those of last season. 




The next step is run in the "den" of the Czech, that could use the strength of the home crowd to show the power to which we used extensively to last season.


For the Replay of the race click Here:

Replay Houffalize Elite Men


Photo Credits:

Michele Mondini

Alfons Benz


Scegli Lingua


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